The True Happiness of Our Vocation

07-08-2018Pastor's LetterRafael Ghattas, Seminarian

Father Wilson asked me to write something for St Mary's bulletin. I apologize in advance, it is my first time doing so. To begin, allow me to share with you one of my favorite verses in the bible, which is John 21:15.

"Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'"

This encounter between Peter and Jesus comes at the last chapter of the gospel of John, and I am pretty sure John did not put it there by coincidence. John meant to end his gospel with this intimate dialogue between the two old friends, Jesus and Peter.

I love this verse because despite of how simple and short it is, I believe it summarizes our whole vocation on earth.

First, Peter through his journey with Jesus, had to find out how weak and sinful he was, to the point of betraying his best friend during his passion.

Then, Peter had to discover that despite of his unworthiness, Jesus still loved him and considered him, even after his fall, as his closest friend.

Now, at the end in John 21, when we read Jesus's question to Peter, "Do you love me?" We all know that Peter this time was sincere when he answered, "Lord you know that I love you." And we can all guess that Peter was ready to do anything to prove it.

Only then, Jesus asked him to love his sheep for Him, to care and tend his sons and daughters whom He sacrificed His life for.

I imagine that these are the 4 steps of our story as well with Jesus. First, through our failures, sinfulness and weaknesses we discover how imperfect we are, and how we are in a desperate need for God's saving. Then to our surprise, we realize how much Jesus loves us and is capable of healing us. This is when we start forgetting about ourselves, desiring to love our brethren, so we can please His heart. Only when we begin looking outward, we discover our purpose and find the true happiness of our vocation, which is to be in Him and like Him a source of love and care for others.

Finally, I would love to tell you how much I am thankful to God and to you for giving me this opportunity to be with you this summer. When I first heard that I was coming here, all my seminarian friends told me how lucky I was. Now after seeing how warm and loving your community is, I understand what my friends meant. I am truly grateful to all the love I received from each one of you and know that I will always be praying for you because you made me love priesthood even more.

Rafael Ghattas, a seminarian of the Diocese of Charleston